Hearing that real estate transactions were essential was a glimmer of hope in the otherwise grey sky looming over Houston’s housing market. But the essential status wasn’t enough to keep the virus from pulling the rug out from under our feet. So what’s that thunderous roar? It’s the sound of the plunging Houston housing market amid Covid-19.
The Oil Bust: Houston Housing Market Amid Covid-19
The oil bust didn’t help. Call it a perfect storm if you like, but the use of the word perfect seems ironic at best and downright cruel at worst. During one of the most fearful, uncertain times in the history of the US economy, thousands of oil-industry jobs were slashed. This was a devastating blow, especially for Houston.
And the worst oil bust in history could not have come at a worse time. It’s estimated that Houston could lose as many as 83,000 jobs by the time 2020 wraps. This will have staggering effects on a Houston economy some are already calling battered.
The Houston real estate industry will not come out of this coronavirus season unscathed. In mid-April, the housing market was already down a whopping 37%. Although closings can still take place since real estate transactions were deemed essential, listings and appointments have plummeted compared to this time last year.
Understandably, leasing activity has slowed. People are hesitant to hold, and attend, open houses. But it’s not only lease transactions that are down – rent prices are declining too. At this time, analysts expect home sales to fall 25% overall for the year.
Everything looks different in the age of Coronavirus. While open-houses and in-person tours were once essential components of the process, people have been forced to get creative with virtual tours, FaceTime walk-throughs, and remote lease-signings.
When stay-at-home orders were first issued, many simply removed their homes from the market in anticipation of the worst. Although real estate transactions were still essential, they slowed, and occasionally even felt risky.
Uncertainty in some areas led to hesitation in other areas – for some people, buying, selling, and moving were no longer priorities – or even possibilities. But what about now, as the state slowly reopens?
Houston Housing Market Amid Covid-19: The New Open House
Now that things are starting to open back up, some realtors are hosting open houses again. Surprisingly, many of these open houses are seeing a strong turnout. For now, prospective tenants are mostly arriving with masks, maintaining social distancing, and forgoing handshakes in favor of friendly waves.
And while some people are probably just looking to get out of the house, others seem genuinely interested in buying.
As things slowly come back to life, realtors are hopeful that the Houston housing market won’t be too far behind. The recent healthy open-house turnouts are a small spark of hope in an otherwise discouraging market.